St. Cloud police chief announces retirement, assistant chief to fill role

St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson announced his retirement on Friday, after 10 years in the role.

Anderson’s retirement will take effect in November. Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton will then fill the role of police chief.

During the announcement, Mayor Dave Kleis thanked Anderson and spoke about his role within the community.

“He is somebody who has connected and reformed,” Kleis said, in part. “Chief Anderson has led, I believe, the best police department in the nation.”

Kleis went on to state, “It’s really been a testament to Chief Anderson to be able to lead a department the way he has, and … I also believe the morale has never been higher with our department and that’s also a testament to Chief Anderson and his ability to not only lead, but to inspire.”

Addressing the group that had gathered for the announcement, Anderson thanked the community and spoke about his experience leading up to, and including, his position as chief of police.

Anderson said that his main memory from growing up “in a very violent neighborhood in Detroit” was how much others invested in him “so I could reach my full potential.”

“I’ve tried to use this platform to pay back as much as I could, as often as I could, and I couldn’t have come to a better place to carry out that vision, and to try to reach those goals,” Anderson said. “This city embraced me, I was an outsider, and I can’t think of a time when I was told ‘no.’ Every time we went and we reached out to this community with an idea to engage better, to more effectively and more efficiently serve them, they said ‘yes’ and that’s what’s required, none of us can do anything alone.”

Anderson spoke about the challenges he has seen in recent years, saying, “The last couple of years have been exponentially harder than the first 25 that I served. Society has changed, the complexity of the things we ask these men and women to do, has changed greatly.”

However, Anderson said service is what he considers to be a key aspect of his profession.

“I truly believe in the service aspect of this magnanimous profession and if you don’t believe me, take a look at our squad cars. On most marked vehicles in most cities, it says ‘to protect and serve.’ I flipped the script and ours say ‘to serve and protect,’ because we emphasize the service aspect of this job.”

He added, “I believe this job should be treated with reverence because of the power we have as law enforcement officials.”

Anderson closed his remarks by saying, “thank you is not enough for this fine community” and that “It has been my privilege and pleasure to be of service to the St. Cloud community and the men and women of the St. Cloud Police Department.”

Oxton also spoke during the announcement, expressing his thanks to Anderson and his thoughts on filling the role.

“I’m excited about this opportunity, I’m excited about taking on the challenges that we as a community have and we will continue to work through them as we have in the past,” Oxton said.